From the Travel Journal, dated July 28, 2009:
Meditated on the beach this morning. Nothing quite like the sound of the surf coming in, each whoosh, slurp and crash, the ripples of the water on sand, the scratching sounds clear the mind. After four decadent days finding my center was critical. The waves came in threes: swell, curl and crash. Swell, curl and crash. Swell, curl and crash. Soon I was walking down a road in China or maybe India. Then I was worrying about problems at home. Breathe, I heard Master Ma tell me. The images dissipate. Breath. A bit of water sprays me, I sit motionless. The sun is rising and I feel the warmth. The sounds of the morning grow louder as I breath. Now like the waves, breath, hold, exhale. Swell, curl and crash. The moment ripples out like the water. All is quiet.
Then Reyes slaps me on the back.
“Guero, time to surf!”
I inhabit the moment, smile at him, my anger fades quickly. Swell, curl and crash. Grab the board and paddle out.
Reyes disappears, again.
And yet, after breakfast–a delicious breakfast of chorizo and eggs–I sank back into self-pity. I had meant to work yesterday, but got sidetracked. (That’s easy to do here and I was a willing participant.) What would Master Ma say to that? Might he say, “it’s good you got sidetracked! Now you can get back on the path.” He takes all things as they are. When will I?
I went back to the hotel room. Tried to write. Read for a while. Went out to check the surf. Wow, waves in mid-day? Saw a swell half a kilometer long, swell, curl and crash.
“Fuck this,” I thought, “I would rather chase my demons out there than sit here and have them chase me.”
There is no better cure for self-pity than getting battered, keel-hauled, twisted and pounded by two meter waves.
Afterwards I sat on the orange-golden sands of the beach and watched a blond in a tiny string bikini wade into the surf. She’s going to lose that top in these waves, I thought.
Three minutes later she emerges from the water without her top. The joys of Mexico.
The beach is mostly empty today, however. It’s Tuesday. Everything is closed today. Six pelicans glide over the swells, wheel and then settle in the water. How can such an ungainly looking bird land so elegantly?
Reyes showed up around two.
“Hey man, you should have seen me out there today,” I said, “I was Greg Louganis: all cartwheels, somersaults, flips, belly-flops and back flips. I owned the waves in an hilarious way.”
He looked at me with irritation in his eyes.
“You are a clown!”
“You’re not taking this seriously, Pablito.”
“Why should I? It’s not like you are, either, running up and down the Jalisco Coast like a randy goat.”
The crack of a smile emerged. “Hey,” I said, “I saw it. You’re smiling! Look, Reyes,” I went on, “Trisquit will be here tonight or tomorrow. And let me disabuse you of any seriousness from that point forward. When he arrives cataclysmic mayhem will erupt. You know it’s true!”
“La puebla es jodido.”
“You already said that.”
“It needs repeating,” he said.
“You realize, Pablito, if he an Barton get going we may very well never leave Mexico!”
“Oh hell,” I said, “if Barton shows Trisquit his collection of guns we’ll probably end up joining SubCommandante Marcos down in Chiapas.”
“I should call the Federales and warn them now, no?”
“Maybe,” I said shaking my head at the thought of those two together, “it’s best if you and Barton head down to Pascuales before Trisquit arrives and stay until he leaves. I’ll join you after. Just say Barton’s stuck on the plantation.” I winked at him.
“You’re bad, SP,” Reyes said, getting the hint.
“But good too. There isn’t an excuse in the world I can’t conjure to delay the inevitable, no?”
“Let no man ever say your bullshit could not be put to good use,” he smiled.
“My father taught me well. He should have been a politician. He can wiggle out of anything.”
“Reyes” I said seriously, “remind me. . . ”
“What, Pablito,” he said, a wave sliding over our feet.
“Remind me to do this more often, okay? I spend too much time being serious, lost in my head. It’s good to act like a child from time to time.”
Reyes looked at me with sympathy, sympathy born of many tragedies and joys shared.
“Sean Paul,” he said, “I can read your moods like these waves.” He pointed out into the bay. “I’ve never seen someone so free and confident about his place in the world, as when you returned. But I’ve never seen someone so bewildered by the loss of a dream well-lived, either.” He grasped my shoulder. “You needed this,” he said and pushed me into the water. But not before yelling, “and if you don’t finish that book I’ll kick your ass!”